This week in history (30 November – 6 December)

30 November

On 30 November 1990, the World Shotokan Karate Association WSKA was formed.  As a non-political association made up of various organisations it aims to promote traditional Shotokan competition.

In 2001 Malcolm Dorfman was appointed the Africa Continent Director for the WSKA. In 2005 he was appointed to the WSKA Referee Qualifications panel for the World Championships. In 2013 he was appointed to the five-man WSKA Referees Commission.

Two years later Dorfman was appointed Asia Continent Director. He has served on the WSKA’s Technical Committee alongside Andy Sherry and Ted Hedlund. 

On 30 November 2004 Shotokan master, Taiji Kase, was cremated at the Pere Lachaise crematorium in Paris. Around 350 people attended his funeral.

1 December

On 1 December 1952 Goju-ryu master, Masaji Taira, was born on Kume Island, Okinawa, Japan. He was a student of Eiichi Miyazato, a direct student of Goju-ryu Karate founder Chojun Miyagi. 

On 1 December 1967 the JKA’s Satoshi Miyazaki arrived in Belgium, joining Taiji Kase in France, Keinosuke Enoeda in England and Hiroshi Shirai in Italy as the four JKA instructors teaching in Europe at the time. 

On 1 December 1968, a memorial was erected to mark the centenary of Gichin Funakoshi’s birth. 

The memorial was built by the Shotokai organisation at the Engaku-ji temple in Kamakura, a small coastal town south of Tokyo. Engaku-ji is one of the leading Zen Temples in Eastern Japan and is the second of Kamakura’s great zen temples. The temple was built into the slopes of Kamakura’s forested hills. 

The memorial was designed by Kenji Ogata and features calligraphy from Funakoshi and the former chief priest of the temple, Sogen Asahina. The calligraphy quotes the second of Funakoshi’s Guiding PrinciplesKarate ni sente nashi (There is no first strike in Karate). There is a second stone to the memorial which features an inscription by Nobuhide Ohama, dedicated to the life of Gichin Funakoshi. 

3 December

On 3 December 1941, Shoshin Nagamine gave a public Karate demonstration to members of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Force and an assortment of dignitaries, including the Police Chief Cabinet secretary and his deputy, plus members of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (Martial Arts section). 

Born 15 July 1907 in Naha, Okinawa, Nagamine was the founder of Matsubayashi-ryu. Like many of the Okinawan masters of that period he had several teachers, including Chotoku Kyan and Choki Motubu, who both taught him while he was in the Okinawan police force. He was also a skilled practitioner of Judo and Kendo. 

As a police officer Nagamine eventually rose to the rank of Police Superintendent, being in charge of Motobu, a town located in Kunigami District, Okinawa Prefecture. He would often train his men in the effective use of Karate. 

In 1941 as a 35-year-old Police Lieutenant, Nagamine travelled to Tokyo to demonstrate the efficiency of Karate, to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Force. At the time he was the only master-level practitioner of Karate in the police force. His aim of giving the demonstration was to spread the correct use of Karate. During the showcase he demonstrated kata and tameshiwari, breaking three pine boards, each two centimetres thick. 

Shoshin Nagamine eventually retired from the police force in 1952. He opened his own dojo, Matsubayashi-Ryu Kodokan Karate and Ancient Martial Arts Studies, teaching his own style of Karate, until his death on 2 November 1997.

4 December

On 4 December 1965, the Japan Karate Association (JKA) moved their headquarters from Yotsuya to Koraku, in the Bunkyo-ku district of Tokyo. 

Yotsuya, located in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, had been the JKA’s headquarters since 1955. The author C. W. Nicol described what it was like training at the Yotsuya Hombu in his book, Moving Zen: Karate as a Way to Gentleness

Koraku would remain the JKA’s headquarters until 1973 when they moved their hombu to Ebisu in the Shibuya-ku district of Tokyo.

5 December

On 5 December 1944, the founder of Ashihara Karate, Hideyuki Ashihara, was born in Hiroshima, Japan. He was a direct student of Kyokushin founder, Mas Oyama. 

Ashihara was considered a formidable fighter, and by 1966 he was an instructor of Kyokushin Karate at the organisation’s Hombu (headquarters).

In 1987 Ashihara started showing the first signs of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). His condition gradually worsened and on 24 April 1995, he died aged only fifty.

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